As a liveable city, Goulburn kicks many goals, but some of the biggest are coming in 2021.
The city’s rise as a desirable growth centre will gather even more momentum, shrugging off bushfires, COVID-19 and two damaging floods in 2020.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council is managing $100 million worth of capital works in addition to an annual turnover of $100 million, which also contains capital projects. Mayor Bob Kirk says fresh interest, ideas and energy will arrive in September, 2021, with the election of several new councillors.
A busier, more vibrant nighttime economy will begin to emerge towards the end of 2021, with many more people walking around the main street in evenings window-shopping, eating in cafes, drinking and watching live theatre performances.
The Goulburn Performing Arts Centre will open in November, 2021, with an all-local production to celebrate its completion. A manager, appointed after a strong national response to applications created a high quality field of potential candidates, will begin work shortly.
“We want to put the person in place in the new year so they can begin the operation of the place, how it will be managed, and start attracting events,” said Mayor Kirk.
Adding to the audiences and cafe culture will be the arrival of residents in more new apartments and villas. Mayor Kirk welcomes infill housing in the central areas gathering pace. This includes the second stage of the former Marian College redevelopment – 14 three-bedroom villas, some already sold off-the-plan for up to $680,000 because of the premium location.
In Church Street, four new two-storey apartments are constructed and more are to come, while Fenwick Crescent’s new townhouses are coming onto the market, all surrounding a revitalised, leafier main street. Council has an agreement with the NSW Government to finally take control of Auburn Street, and has planted numerous trees for a pedestrian-friendly meeting place.
“Give those trees a few years to get up, and it will be like Bourke Street, showing the benefits,” said Mayor Kirk.
The Goulburn Performing Arts Centre, the new $1 million pavilion at the Cookbundoon playing fields – construction commencing in early 2021 – and other big-ticket items such as the Goulburn Aquatic Centre add lustre to the city’s liveability. They all enhance Goulburn’s point of difference to other regional towns and cities competing for new investment; small, medium and large new businesses; and more residents.
Goulburn’s desirability has already helped eclipse the NSW Government’s growth projections in the council’s recently released new housing strategy. In 2016, projections were for 175 houses per annum on average during the next 20 years to meet expected growth.
“Interestingly, in 2019, we had 217 new house approvals, and by November 2020 we had 332,” said Mayor Kirk. “If this trajectory continues, we are going to be a long way in excess of those projections. Even if it plateaus at this level, we are almost twice what the level of growth is projected. That was when they projected we would need 3500 homes for this region to accommodate those numbers.”
He said blowing housing projections “out of the water” means managing subsequent growth in demand for infrastructure. Urban areas from Mary’s Mount to new sites at West Goulburn are on the planning horizon.
“We are already trying to crystal-ball those infrastructure needs to get to those areas – water, sewerage, power, roads and traffic coming into the town, we will need other transport options to avoid the CBD,” said Mayor Kirk.
Work will begin in 2021 on a new water reticulation pipeline from Goulburn’s wastewater treatment management facility to come through town for parks and playing fields.
“The vision is we will have Victoria Park green, lush and growing all the time instead of being burnt off when Australia Day arrives, just like Belmore Park,” said Mayor Kirk.
“A cafe at the back of the aquatic centre will be available, without having to go to the pool, making it a little hub for Victoria Park. To me, Victoria Park is the community park; Belmore Park is for shoppers, visitors and enjoyment of sitting events.”
The past 12 months has set a solid foundation for the building coming to Goulburn in the New Year. Council has borrowed part of the funds needed for the Goulburn Aquatic Centre and Goulburn Performing Arts Centre, but sets a balanced budget each year and minimises borrowings.
Assessed through the NSW Office of Local Government with key markers contained in seven thresholds, council has met, or in most cases exceeded, all those requirements. It has $98.7 million in reserves in the bank.